Joke writing

Course Dates: 17/03/19
Time: 10:30 - 16:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Kate Smurthwaite

Uncover the workings of the classic one-liner, practise joke writing and find out what makes a good joke. Learn how to refine and develop your own writing skills for stand up, comedy writing and pleasure.

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Joke writing


What is the course about?

Discover how jokes work - and write and hone your own. In this course, we'll uncover the devices and techniques that lie behind the classic one-liner, and we will look at how to get the best out of a joke, by exploring clarity, wording, structure and more.

The Tutor
Kate Smurthwaite writes for BBC3’s BAFTA-winning The Revolution Will Be Televised and the UK's leading political satire show Have I Got News For You. She also writes and tours an annual solo political comedy show and has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the past 12 years. She is often a guest on news and debate shows including Question Time, BBC News and Channel 4 News, and has been has written fr publications including The Guardian and The Independent.

Build reserves the right to change course tutors from those advertised in this outline. In line with our refund policy we are unable to grant a refund on the grounds of a change of tutor.

What will we cover?

- The classic one-liner, looking at examples from the likes of Jack Dee and Jimmy Carr.
- The mechanics of the classic one-liner and the key attributes of good joke writing.
- Honing and refining your own jokes to maximise their effect and illustrate fundamental joke writing techniques.

Along the way, we will read jokes, tell jokes and watch stand up comedians tell jokes on video.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Identify the classic joke structure
- Begin writing jokes in that style
- Describe a range of comic devices that lie behind jokes
- Identify strategies for maximising the effect of a joke.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

All levels. Some writing and reading will be done in the session.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Talks, discussion, pair work, group exercises and games, plus watching and listening to illustrative clips. No work outside of class.

All writing courses at Build will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.

For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No compulsory purchases. Students may like to buy books, scripts, videos or recordings to further explore in their own time. Guidance will be given on worthwhile purchases for those interested.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Build offers an 11 week course on writing comedy scripts. Stand-up comedy and related courses are also available from our Drama Department.

All students are invited to join us at Build Talks Back, our monthly performance night for Build writers. Everyone is welcome, admission is free and there's no need to book in advance. Visit for more details or if you're interested in reading your work. Students are also encouraged to submit to Between the Lines, our annual anthology. Learn more at For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on and Twitter.

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: HW223

Sun, day, 17 Mar - 17 Mar '19

Duration: 1 session

Full fee: £59.00
Senior fee: £59.00
Concession: £24.00

Or call to enrol: 222-66-889-99

Download form & post

Any questions? [email protected]
or call 020 7492 2717

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online . You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.


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